Amidst Repression of Church Workers, Expand the Movement Against Tyranny!

In recent weeks, three United Methodist missionaries — Adam Thomas Shaw, Tawanda Chandiwana, and Miracle Osma — have experienced the terror of the Trump-backed Duterte regime before all safely returned home in the past few days. In only two years, the Duterte regime has wrought over 20,000 killings and shut down the possibilities of peace talks amidst a fifty year civil war in the Philippines; now, the regime is targeting church workers who work in solidarity with the poor.

In February 2018, the three missionaries (Shaw, Chandiwana and Osman) participated in a fact-finding mission — as a part of an ICHRP International Solidarity mission — in rural South Cotabato, Mindanao. The missionaries documented eye-witness accounts of the Lake Sebu massacre in which the Armed Forces of the Philippines killed 8 indigenous farmers. On their way back to the city, Philippine authorities apprehended the three missionaries, along with two others. Government authorities then placed the missionaries on a blacklist for their human rights work, and accused the missionaries of being ISIS members.

Most recently, the Philippine government gave orders for Shaw, Chandiwana and Osma to leave the country because of their “political activities.” Chandiwana was detained for 2 months before being deported, while the Bureau of Immigration withheld documents necessary for Shaw and Osma to leave the country. The United Methodist Church since launched a campaign to #LetThemLeave, and Shaw returned to the United States on July 4, while Osman has just recently been released.  

The three missionaries are among many church workers that have experienced Duterte’s rising fascism. Sister Patricia Fox, a 71-year-old Catholic nun from Australia, also faced threats of deportation due to her work with peasant farmers, but remains in the Philippines after cries of protest from church people across the globe.  In December 2017, assailants killed Roman Catholic priest Father Tito Paez, and since then, three other priests have been killed – Father Mark Anthony Ventura, Father Richard Nilo and Father Rey Urmeneta. On July 3rd, a Mayor and United Methodist, Ferdinand Bote, was gunned down.  

The common thread of these church workers has been their concern for and work with poor and struggling Filipinos. As Adam Shaw recently noted, “I think the church, especially in the Philippines, will always be with the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalized because it is part of our mandate as people of faith to be supporting, to be a platform, and to give space for their voices.”

Reflecting on the grave human rights crisis, Shaw further recounted, “Because I had my prior experience in Mindanao, witnessing all these things happen to people that I work with, having trumped-up charges, being disappeared, being arrested, and some being killed, that maybe I’m a bit more numb or more understanding,” Shaw said. “Yes, I’m on the watch list but it could be much worse. Yes, I’m on the blacklist but I’m still alive and I haven’t been disappeared. It kind of puts it more in a reference.”

Under the Duterte administration, the suffering of only a few individuals — whether Kian De Los Santos, Father Tito Paez, Jo Lapiro, Adam Shaw, or Sister Pat— has been enough to enrage and move thousands across the Philippines and the world to resist Duterte’s dictatorship. But these names are just a few of thousands who have suffered, and Duterte’s long list of human rights violations are not acts merely against church leaders out of spite for Christianity, nor are Duterte’s violations mere personal attacks on individuals, nor, are these attacks even limited to the Filipinos.

Rather, Duterte is waging an all out war against the Filipino people and all those who seek peace and justice in the face of rising fascism, labeling ordinary activists and faith leaders as terrorists. As U.S. military aid continues to support the Duterte administration, Duterte’s all out war is another link in the chain through which U.S. war and intervention holds oppressed people captive across the world.

The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines  joins the United Methodist Church to demand an end to the repression of church workers. Further, if human rights violations against a few church workers has already garnered the ire of thousands — over 18,000 signed the United Methodist petition to let the missionaries go home — then now when there is an all out war against the broad sectors of Filipinos and all those who seek justice in the country and across the world, we call for an even greater expansion of a U.S. mass movement against Duterte’s tyranny and against U.S. military aid and intervention in the Philippines. ####

Take Action:

  • Support the struggle of poor and indigenous communities for self-determination and flourishing: Donate to the Save Our Schools Network as centers of community education and development. Through the United Methodist Church all donations of the Save Our Schools Network are tax deductible and 100% of your donation goes to support the network.
          • To donate online: Go here or go to umcmission.org and search Save Our Schools, Protect Indigenous Life (#3022305).
          • To donate by check, please make your check payable to Advance GCFA and the Advance number on the memo line and mail to: Advance GCFAPO Box 9068 GPO

            New York, NY 10087-9068

          • To donate by phone, please call 1-888-252-6174.
  • Take Legislative Action:  Join congressional advocacy efforts to ensure that U.S. tax dollars are not used to fund the Philippine military and national police.
  • Conduct vigils, write statements, and participate in actions for the people’s State of Nation Address, July 23rd Philippines time. Raise the calls of ICHRP: Stop the Killings! End U.S. military aid to the Philippines! No to Fascist Dictatorship! Resume the Peace Talks!
  • Expand the movement against tyranny — invite churches, organizations, and individuals (whose organization is not yet able to join ICHRP) to join the of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines-United States!

 

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U.S. Senate Highlights Extrajudicial Killings in the Philippines

On the heels of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP US) Stop the Killings Speaking Tour: The People’s Caravan for Peace & Justice in the Philippines, the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on State Foreign operations adopted new language that adds to the international condemnation of human rights violations under President Duterte.  The national speaking tour kicked off in Washington D.C. and included advocacy days led by the Ecumenical Advocacy Network on the Philippines (EANP), which featured testimony from Philippine indigenous human rights defenders in 20 congressional visits.  The visits urged members of Congress to restrict aid to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police.

“It is good to see that at least some members of the US Congress are responding to the outcries of Filipinos and their allies in the US about the many serious human rights abuses in the Philippines,” said Paul Bloom, co-coordinator of EANP.

On June 21, the Senate Appropriations Committee adopted language on extra-judicial killings in the funding bill for the US State Department Foreign Operations, requiring the Secretary of State to submit a report within 90 days of enactment “assessing the extent to which the AFP is respecting human rights and the rule of law, particularly regarding involvement in extrajudicial killings, and the investigation and prosecution of military personnel who commit gross human rights violations.” It required that the report “include a description of the steps taken by the AFP to implement policies and reforms to prevent such abuses.”

A week earlier the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee approved their version of the funding bill.  The Committee stated that, “Extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, including those committed in the conduct of the anti-drug campaign, erode confidence in the Government of the Philippines’ commitment to human rights, due process, and the rule of law”.

The funding bills prohibit the PNP from using any US aid funds for its program of extrajudicial killings in the war on drugs.  The bills require that ” — funds be made available to USAID [Agency for International Development] to continue support for the national and community based drug treatment and demand reduction program implemented by the Philippine Department of Health and local entities”.

“This victory is small, but significant,” said Reverend Dr. Mary Susan Gast, Chair of the National Ecumenical-Interfaith Forum for Filipino Concerns in Northern California (NEFFCON NorCal). “Our organizing and persistent communication with legislators have resulted in Senators’ spotlighting extra-judicial killings in the Philippines and calling for accountability and reform as conditions for receiving military funding from the United States.”

The bills allocate funding for fiscal year 2019, which begins October 1, 2018.

The human rights language in these funding bills comes in the wake of reports of an excess of 20,000 killings in President Duterte’s war on drugs; his recent listing of 600 suspected terrorists that includes human rights defenders and even the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Rights; and, of many recent reports of killings of human rights defenders, indigenous rights leaders, environmental activists, and religious leaders.

“So long as human rights abuses in the Philippines persist, so will our legislative advocacy to ensure that our U.S. tax dollars do not contribute to the suffering of Filipinos,” said Pam Tau Lee, Chair of ICHRP US.  “We will continue to strengthen the global movement for just and lasting peace in the Philippines.”

The network of groups involved in advocacy efforts included EANP, ICHRP, NEFFCON Norcal, the Justice and Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ, U.S. Filipinos for Good Governance, and StoptheDrugWar.org.

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Portland Filipinos & Advocates Take Torture Case, Philippine Human Rights Situation to the City

Portland, OR– On May 6, 2018 members of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines – Pacific Northwest Chapter (ICHRP-PNW) gathered to give testimony in front of the Portland City Council, calling the City to support a resolution passed by San Francisco Board of Supervisors in the wake of the torture and deportation of Jerome Aba, a Filipino human rights and peace activist. ICHRP-PNW members further explained the human rights situation in the Philippines under the US-Duterte regime, informing the council about the over 20K extrajudicial killings (EJKs) which have occurred under Duterte’s bloody drug war, and finally calling for the safe passage of all migrants and international travelers through Portland ports.

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ICHRP-PNW members highlighted the growing partnership between the U.S. and Duterte regime through the detainment, torture, and interrogation of Jerome Aba, who fell subject to the harassment of US Border and Customs Agents in April. Aba held a ten year visa when he arrived at San Francisco International Airport as a part of the Stop the Killings Speaking Tour, and was set to arrive in Portland in May.

As Tabitha Ponciano, Chairperson of Portland Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines shared, “after returning to the Philippines, Aba recounted the Guantanamo style torture he was subjected to at the hands of the US border and customs agency. He was stripped naked and put in front of an industrial fan in order to make him cold, forced to sign blank documents, and repeatedly left alone in a room with either a loaded gun or an active grenade in order to taunt or intimidate him. Several times during his 28 hours of detainment he was told he had no rights and no right to speak to his lawyer who was waiting outside the entire time. Aba recounts being told on several occasion that if he attempted to run he would be shot and the agents regularly unfastened their guns in order to show they meant what they were saying.”

Despite Aba’s account, the US government has skirted all accountability and insisted that a “technical error” in his visa was the reason behind his 28+ hours of detainment. Nikki De Leon, a speaker from an ICHRP member, the National Alliance of Filipino Concerns, reiterated “There is an unevenness of application to migrants of Customs and Border Protection . . . [migrants] are free to be used for labor power in the United States, but if we are to be peace advocates to point out the influence on the U.S. on the Philippines, we could potentially be tortured.”

ICHRP-PNW member Melissa Munoz connected Aba’s experience with that of Claudia Gomez, a 20-year-old Guatemalan woman killed by US border patrol agents while trying to flee violence in her home country last month. Munoz implored City Council, “Sadly, this is not the first time U.S. agencies have done something like this to fellow migrant residents here in America. The resolution we are asking you to pass today is one that acknowledges the rights, hard work, and respect that all migrants, refugees and international travelers deserve.”

Alma Trinidad, Social Work Professor at Portland State University and at Large Member of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines added: “We want to put a stop to tax dollars to U.S. supported militarization, economic gains, or any form of aid that justifies human rights violations . . . Money speaks volumes. Money put to inhumane treatment customs and border, into advisory groups, into technical support and equipment, including intelligence and surveillance drones, means explicitly investing in violence.”

Twenty-three Portland area faith leaders joined ICHRP-PNW’s call for a City Council resolution condemning human rights abuses in the Philippines and at the US border, “As faith leaders and people seeking peace, we join the City of San Francisco Board of Supervisors in condemning the inhumane treatment of Jerome Aba and call the City of Portland to create a resolution to further condemn the action and to call on our Federal representatives to investigate,” the letter read. “We ask that the City of Portland to uplift Jerome’s message to stop the killings in the Philippines.”

Mayor Ted Wheeler expressed his support for the ICHRP’s cause, saying, “I will put it on the record, in my opinion, President Duterte is not a credible leader that should be supported by the United States.” In a similarly positive statement, Commissioner Chloe Eudaly simply remarked, “Let’s take action,” referring ICHRP-PNW to address the Portland Human Rights Commission to further their advocacy around human rights abuses in the Philippines.

Portland City Council members are not the first major U.S. voices to speak out against the ongoing crimes in the Philippines. Mayor Wheeler and Chloe Eudaly join U.S. Senator Merkley; the Senator wrote a letter of support for ICHRP in May, declaring, “I will continue to work with my colleagues in demanding that the Trump administration join us in condemning instead of rewarding President Duterte’s human rights abuses and violations.”

Taking it’s message to the Portland streets, ICHRP-PNW also posted a billboard add that reads: Stop the Killings: End U.S. Military Aid to the Philippines” on the corner of SW 6th Ave. and SW Broadway.

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ICHRP-PNW, born in December 2017 in Portland, seeks to unite with “any possible” individual and organization for the cause of a just and lasting peace in the Philippines. As human rights violations in the Philippines increases and as the campaign for Justice for Jerome Aba heightens, ICHRP-PNW calls for the broadest possible solidarity for the Filipino People.

You can view the full hearing of the City Hall meeting here, between 6 minutes and 25 minutes.


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The Stop the Killings Speaking Tour & Caravan Reaches Thousands

From Washington D.C, to New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Davis, and El Sobrante, the Stop the Killings Speaking Tour: The People’s Caravan for Peace and Justice in the Philippines culminated with a final rally at the Philippine Consulate and celebration in Los Angeles, CA before making a final stop in Hawaii.

Stop the Killings Rally in Front of the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles

​The People’s Caravan, hosted by the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines- U.S. and the Malaya Movement, comes in wake of the growing number of extrajudicial killings reaching 20,000 under the Duterte regime, the recent removal of Philippine Chief Justice Sereno, seen by many as the “death of democracy,” and the start of U.S. military “balikatan” exercises in the Philippines. The tour brought guest speakers from the Philippines to expose the violent and oppressive conditions under the Duterte government. They called upon people in the U.S. to join the Filipino people in demanding an end to U.S. military aid to the Philippines and to stop the killings.

 It comes as no coincidence that one of the first Tour speaker to land in the U.S., Jerome Aba, a speaker from Mindanao who has been vocal against U.S. intervention in the Philippines, was detained, tortured and deported upon his arrival in the U.S. at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), a move that has been condemned by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Raymond Palatino, tour speaker and two time former congressperson in the Philippines shared, “There were those who tried to silence our voices by preventing one of the speakers, Jerome Aba from joining the Stop the Killings Caravan. But they failed. Jerome was still able to deliver his message. And this injustice united groups in the U.S. to denounce the torture he endured and the impact of the war on terror in Mindanao.”

Indeed, despite the deportation of Aba, three resource speakers from the Philippines were able to travel the tour: Mong Palatino, Junance Magbuana of the Save Our Schools Network, and Elder Labog, Chairperson of Kilusang Mayo Uno (May First Movement).

The Tour Delegates – from left – Mong Palatino, Junance Magbuana, Elmer Labog

Magbuana spoke of the heightened struggle under President Rodrigo Duterte’s growing dictatorship and intense militarization of Mindanao. “The world is becoming more and more dangerous for human rights defenders,” she said. “With martial law, government forces were given authority for extrajudicial killings. Fear and death is what we have in Mindanao, not peace and justice under martial law.” Under the Duterte regime, more than 20,000 people have been killed under the President’s war on drugs and martial law. President Trump has shown support and admiration for Duterte and his war on drugs, saying that Duterte is “doing a good job,” and suggesting the U.S should implement something similar.

Echoing the need for international solidarity, especially in a country that provides military aid and training to those responsible for the killings, Elmer Labog added, “While we struggle for wages, work and rights for workers, we must also go beyond. Under Duterte killings are still ongoing. These mass actions are inspirations not only to people in the Philippines, but for all freedom loving people all over the world to fight against fascism and tyranny and any form of dictatorship. It is inspiring to see that in this side of the world Filipino people and American people are uniting to highlight the deadly regime of Duterte and support the Filipino struggle for democracy and change.”

Over the course of the Speaking Tour, from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles, ICHRP-US and the Malaya Movement held 28 forums, 20 congressional visits, and ten mobilizations reaching thousands of people.

On May 1st in Chicago at Haymarket Square, where International Workers Day is commemorated as a site of violence against workers, labor leaders honored the Philippine workers movement with a plaque in honor of Kilusang Mayo Uno, the democratic labor center promoting genuine, militant and anti-imperialist trade unionism in the Philippines. Throughout the tour, Elmer Labog also met with and rekindled relationships with U.S. labor groups, including the International Longshore Workers Unions (ILWU), the Asian Pacific Labor Alliance (APALA) and the Chicago Teachers Union.

Mong Palatino speaks on behalf of KMU at May Day in Chicago
Elmer Labog and Donna Denina of the Malaya Movement with members of ILWU in Seattle
ICHRP Pacific Northwest hang a banner from the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland, OR

Once the tour hit Seattle, speakers and over 20 delegates from over twenty organizations logged 1,500 miles in the people’s caravan.

Caravan Delegates in Front of the People’s Caravan

Pam Tau Lee, Chairperson of ICHRP-US stated, “As repression in the Philippines grows with the backing of Donald Trump, we call on all people to join the Filipino people in calling for an end to the killings in the Philippines, We are seeking the broadest possible support and calling on the U.S. Senate to end US military aid to another fascist dictatorship in the Philippines. The voices of the people cannot go unheard until there is just and lasting peace in the Philippines.”

The growing US movement against the killings in the Philippines is still young — ICHRP-US only formally launched in December of 2017, and the Malaya Movement in February of this year. The increasing violent suppression and extra-judicial killings under President Duterte has only helped to grow the movement against him calling for an end to U.S. military aid to the Philippines.  If the persistence of the tour in wake of Aba’s deportment and the thousands who mobilized in support are any sign — it’s a movement that only sees growth and victories in its future.

 

 

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A US Movement Grows in Opposition to Duterte’s Rising Fascism

Los Angeles, CA – On May 11th, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP – US) and the Malaya Movement culminated the Stop the Killings Speaking Tour: The People’s Caravan for Peace and Justice in the Philippines with a 100-person rally in front of the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles, home to the largest number of Filipinos in the country. Among the 100 people, a blue bus with the word “MALAYA” (meaning “free” in Tagalog) written on its windows was parked in front of the Philippine Consulate and had just traveled down the west coast to transport human rights speakers from Philippines and advocates from Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco to join the Los Angeles community in condemning the mass killings of Filipinos by President Rodrigo Duterte. The rally featured speakers of human rights experts, survivors of human rights violations, and faith leaders; street theatre and musical performances; and the delivery of a community-signed letter to the Philippine Consulate to garner their support in helping end the killings under Duterte’s drug war.

“The 20,000 extrajudicial killings in the Philippines continue to climb in number,” said Pam Tau Lee, Chairperson of ICHRP-US. “But beyond the gross number of killings, we see the Filipino people are under attack. Under Martial Law and a heightened crackdown on activists, the basic rights of the people are being thwarted.  As fellow human rights advocates and faith leaders, we are glad to have done this U.S.-wide speaking tour and caravan against the killings and the growing repression in the Philippines.”

Since the Government of the Philippines’ cancellation of peace talks with the National Democratic Front amidst a 50 year civil war, a rising dictatorship has emerged under the administration of Rodrigo Duterte. On Friday of last week, Duterte consolidated power over the judiciary, legislative, and executive branches and removed his Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. This follows last year’s declaration and extension of Martial Law in Mindanao despite widespread protests.

“Why does Duterte want to centralize power? To evade accountability for the repressive three wars of his government – his war against drugs, war on terror, and all-out war against human rights activists. All of these wars should really be called the war against the poor, or war against people. Why does he continue to extend and extend martial law? To displace people, especially indigenous people resisting the presence of mining and multinational corporations who are extracting from their ancestral land. Why does he criminalize activists? To justify the termination of the peace process. Instead of addressing roots of armed conflict, he wages these repressive wars against people and ignores legitimate demands by the people to implement genuine land reform, national industrialization, and respect the rights of people”, says Raymond Palatino, a two time former Philippine Congressman who traveled from the Philippines to join the national speaking tour.

Bernadette Ellorin Chair of BAYAN USA proclaims, “Beyond the killings, the people are growing more outraged over Duterte’s abuse of executive powers and fascist moves like the removal of Chief Justice Sereno. This is a page off the Marcos dictator playbook, which Duterte is not studying too well since Marcos fell at the hands of a people’s resistance to tyranny. History teaches us that dictators fall.”

The rally featured a street theatre performance by members of Anakbayan Los Angeles, a progressive youth organization, to commemorate and highlight the lives of victims killed by Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and paramilitary troops. Many victims highlighted were members of peasant or indigenous organizations working towards genuine democracy in Philippines.

Alma Trinidad, Co-Convener of Malaya: A US Movement Against Killings and Dictatorship, and for Democracy in the Philippines, stated: “Our Inang Bayan/Motherland, the Philippines, needs our voice and support now more than ever. Duterte is following in the footsteps of the Iron Fist rule of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos.  As Filipinos in the United States, we must take a stand, speak up, and take action now to stop him, his mentality and sense of governance. Oppression there in the motherland is oppression here for us in the U.S.”

Attendees of the rally signed a poster-sized letter that was hand-delivered to the Philippine Consulate by Trinidad and her fellow Malaya co-convenors Father Toting of St. Matthew Church and Terry Valen, the President of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns. The letter featured the names and faces of the extra-judicial killings under Duterte and read: “20,000+ Filipinos have been killed under President Duterte’s war on the poor, the Moro, and human rights defenders. We urge you to #StopTheKillingsPH”.

Photo: Rally attendees signing a poster-sized letter condemning the 20,000 lives killed under the Duterte regime that was later delivered to the Philippine Consulate.

While the crisis in the Philippines has worsened, the U.S. has expanded support for the increasingly fascist regime. Trump has expressed admiration for Duterte and the drug war in the Philippines, and has promised more military aid while secretly beginning a new military endeavor, Operation Pacific Eagle, which creates provisions for endless spending similar to what occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan in the war on terror. In recent weeks, the U.S. provided $13.5 million dollars worth of surveillance drones to the Philippine military that continues to commit crimes against human rights defenders. “We urge U.S. authorities to withdraw U.S. military aid to the Philippines. Withdraw the drones deployed by the U.S. Army, and  stop supporting the repressive and deadly regime of Duterte. Filipinos will continue to defend our democracy, human rights, and quest for real freedom, justice, and peace”, says Palatino.

Elmer Labog – Chairman of Kilusang Mayo Uno, a democratic labor center in Philippines – added, “It is inspiring to see that in this side of the world Filipino people and American people are uniting to highlight the deadly regime of Duterte and support the Filipino struggle for democracy and change.”

The tour started in Washington D.C. with Ecumenical Advocacy Days and moved on to New York and Chicago before traveling down the west coast to Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles by bus. The tour is scheduled to continue on to Hawaii next month. Across these tour stops, the speakers joined meetings with congressional offices and community events to educate the public on the human rights crisis in Philippines. After the rally, Malaya Movement hosted a mixer and cultural night at Precious Blood Catholic Church wherein 150 people attended to learn more about the human rights situation in Philippines and how to build a movement to stop the killings. The mixer event had co-emcees, Filipino talk show host and producer, Giselle “G” Tongi and Roger Rigor, singer of the popular Manila disco group VST & Co.

“As repression in the Philippines grows with the backing of Donald Trump, we call on all people to join the Filipino people in calling for an end to the killings in the Philippines,” said Lee. “We are seeking the broadest possible support and calling on the U.S. Senate to end US military aid to another fascist dictatorship in the Philippines. The voices of the people cannot go unheard until there is just and lasting peace in the Philippines”

 

Investigate the CBP! Justice for Jerome Aba!

The US Chapter of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP-US) supports Jerome Aba’s demand for an investigation into what happened to him at the hands of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Agency last April 17-19 at the San Francisco International Airport.

In an April 20 press conference in Manila, Aba recounted being subjected to physical and psychological torture while being interrogated by CBP officials, who denied him access to a lawyer, before being forced to fly back to the Philippines. The account included being forced to undress and remain positioned for a prolonged period in front of an industrial fan; being denied food, water, and sleep for hours; and being asked repeatedly if Aba was a “terrorist” or a “communist.”

Despite Aba’s detailed testimony, the CBP has stated that its agents “treat all travelers with dignity and respect” and not admitted any mistreatment of Aba, a 25 year old Moro (Muslim) peace advocate from Mindanao who was granted a 10 year multiple entry visa to the US upon the invitation of several US church groups. Aba’s account of his treatment by CBP fits a an escalating pattern of abuse meted out by border agents against travelers and migrants since the declaration of the so-called “War on Terror” in 2001.

“The response of the US CBP is an outrageous lie. So many thousands of migrants have told horror stories of the violent attacks, withholding of food and water, intimidation and coercion, and humiliating and misleading interrogation they’ve experienced at the hands of CBP agents. It is well-documented that such abuse has become routine practice for the agency, but we will not stand for the CBP’s ‘business as usual’ behavior. The US government must answer for the CBP and Homeland Security’s inhumane treatment of Jerome, and a full investigation and accountability for the agents’ treatment must be secured,” said Pam Tau Lee, Chair of ICHRP-US.

Aba submitted a letter to Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano to formally demand an independent, impartial investigation into his torture, arbitrary detention and other mistreatment and rights violations inflicted on him by US Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection; hold accountable Philippine Consulate officers in San Francisco, US for their neglect of Aba; and to file a diplomatic protest against the US government on what had happened to him.

“Unfortunately, Jerome’s case is one of many. In addition to the rampant abuse of migrants at borders, the Trump administration’s ‘extreme vetting’ program is intended to bar activists, artists and other experts from entering the US to speak out on social and political justice issues. The detention and interrogation of Jerome Aba included repeated questioning about his human rights advocacy. This is an indication that they want to seek out and cause harm to the rightful organizing that has mobilized vast numbers seeking to amplify the voices of those victimized by the culture of impunity in the Philippines and the role of the US in supporting Duterte’s regime. It is my hope that a successful investigation into what happened to Jerome at SFO results in policy changes in how arrivals are treated, including legal representation at the point of entry and also recognition of the UN Declaration of Human Rights,” concluded Lee.

 

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references:

 

https://theintercept.com/2018/04/27/muslim-ban-supreme-court-trump-vetting-muslims/

Revealed: The FBI’s Secret Methods for Recruiting Informants at the Border <- this is interesting

Complaints Describe Border Agents Interrogating Muslim Americans, Asking for Social Media Accounts

Lawsuit: US agents harassing Muslims at border

‘Psychological Torture’: CAIR Sues U.S. Gov’t to Prevent Religious Questioning of Muslims at the Border

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/20/trump-extreme-vetting-activists-censorship-immigration?CMP=share_btn_link

FIRST PERSON ACCOUNT: I am Jerome Succor Aba. I am a Muslim human rights worker from Mindanao, NOT a terrorist.

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ICHRP US rallies for #NoMuslimBanEver and #Justice4Jerome

This morning, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Hawaii v. Trump, to decide whether one of Trump’s latest Muslim Bans – which permanently bans nationals from six Muslim-majority countries – violates federal law as an overreach of a president’s authority and the Constitution.​

ICHRP US members joined Muslim community groups in their rally and call for #NoMuslimBanEver. And Muslim community leaders stood with ICHRP US members to support our call for #Justice4Jerome.

​8 days ago – Jerome Succor Aba became the first Moro, a Filipino Muslim, to fall victim to US President Trump’s Muslim ban. For 28 hours, Jerome was detained at SFO airport by the Customs and Border Patrol, denied access to any outside communication, and suffered brutally inhumane treatment before being sent back to the Philippines. He had been invited to the U.S. by church groups and rights advocates to be a featured speaker in the Ecumenical Advocacy Days and in the national Stop The Killings speaking tour hosted by ICHRP US and Malaya.

​For the past 8 days, the more than 40 member organizations of ICHRP US across the country have been rallying to demand #Justice4Jerome and we will continue to do so from Washington D.C. to SFO to the Philippines.

As Moro leader Amirah Ali Lidasan stated in her article today: “It is high time that the American people put a stop to the discriminatory and inhumane treatment of the US CBP and Homeland Security agents to innocent travelers that they accuse of being terrorists… It is high time to get rid off and stop supporting policies that promote Islamophobia, xenophobia, and disregard of the democratic rights of the people masquerading as policies to “secure” the people of the United States of America. In the words of the victims of 9-11, “Not in our name!”